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Troop Leader Spotlight: Debra Cummings

Service Unit: Cotton Blossom

Troop 2732, Cadettes

Years as Troop Leader: 6

What inspired you to become a Troop Leader?

I was never a Girl Scout, and I wanted my daughter to have the leadership opportunity. I also wanted to experience it through my daughter's eyes and watch her grow. I knew that it would be another way for me and my daughter to connect and bond.

What kind of activities do you do with your troop? What is their favorite thing to do?

Our troop enjoys doing all kinds of activities outside of meetings and earning badges. We have done movie and dinner nights and we recently just did a "staycation" – their choice for spending some of their hard-earned cookie money. I think that doing our troop encampment last year at Shadow Rim was one of their favorite activities. They would probably hold a sleepover every month if they could!

What kind of service projects have you done with your troop?

They collected donations four years in a row and made care packages for Packages from Home. We have gone to Feed My Starving Children and just recently donated 320 nonperishable food items, which included 118 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, to St. Vincent de Paul. They are already planning how they can help out there more often.

Tell us about a volunteer moment that stands out for you.

As the girls were working on their Bronze award this year, they all chimed in and said that they could not wait to earn their Silver Award. I think that is when I knew that all the girls shared a deep level of commitment – not just my daughter. And through these experiences, their confidence continues to grow – now my fellow leaders and I get to sit back and watch them take the reins.

What advice would you give other Troop Leaders?

So many things!

  • Reach out for help. Don't be afraid to ask questions. 
  • Be willing to fail and accept it so you can move on. It’s also a way to model learning for girls. Be willing to let girls fail and help them to accept it and build resilience and perseverance. 
  • You’ll learn something new every year so take it all in. Enjoy it, learn from your girls, and watch them grow into the leaders of tomorrow. 
  • Don't stress; I promise you will make it through. Use each of your leader's skills to help each other.
  • Always, always know that you have sister leaders who are here to help.
What do you wish someone had told you as a new Troop Leader?

Honestly, don't stress and don't try to do it all yourself! You have so many sources to use - use them! Find out who, where, and what and don't feel ridiculous asking for help. Most importantly... know that you can do this!

What would you like others to know about volunteer opportunities with the Girl Scouts?

You don't have to have a daughter to volunteer. There are so many girls looking for troops, and they need leaders to guide them. There are also plenty of other opportunities besides leading a troop. You have the greatest opportunity to build up so many girls, so take a chance on some wonderful young ladies.

Does your troop sell cookies? If yes, tell us in your own words, why it is important to participate in the cookie program?

Yes, our troop sells cookies! The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the greatest opportunity for young girls to step into the world of business. They learn so many valuable skills such as public speaking, how to budget money, inventory skills, and business management. All necessary in life whether they work for a company or start their own.

What are your troops’ cookie-selling tips and tricks?

Always engage with the customers at cookie booths. Ask more than "would you like to buy Girl Scout Cookies?" Find ways to make the sale more personal with questions, such as "how is your day?", or, "I like your shirt!" Always be attentive and smile and encourage girls to explain what they are doing with the money the troop earns.

What is the most inspiring moment you have experienced as a Troop Leader?

The most inspiring moment for me honestly was when my little 1st grade Daisy daughter said to me, "Mommy, how long can I be a Girl Scout?" My reply to her was that she could be part of a troop until she graduates high school. Where she replied, "I want to go all the way, mommy!" She is now going into 6th grade, and her mind still hasn't changed.

I can only hope that all our girls feel this way because then I know that the three of us leaders are doing a good job.